Through a unique crowd-sourcing initiative, Indian Railways is consolidating a digital repository that will showcase its history and heritage, bestowed in the form of free virtual tours for passengers.
A part of an extensive conservation management plan that envisions preservation and promotion of heritage assets, the national transporter has partnered with Google to amass rare and unseen photographs from yesteryear era through crowdsourcing.
These historical pictures will be then digitised by Google Cultural Institute (GCI) and presented on digital platforms that will have free and universal online access.
“A virtual visit will never replace the real thing. But technology can help open up art and culture to everyone, and we think that is a powerful concept. There will be more such screens at other stations to expose commuters to the Railways’ past,” said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project, reports Firstpost.
Under the pilot project, six video screens have already been deployed at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Station (CSTM) by GCI, and they will lend passengers a visual insight into the annals of Railways history. Also, as part of Digital India-Digital Rail campaign, Google has also volunteered to provide free Wi-Fi service at 100 stations.
You may also like: Did You Know? The World’s Oldest Working Steam Loco Is Right Here in India?
The project will help bring greater global visibility to the Railways’ already vast list of heritage assets that includes bridges, steam locos, buildings, artefacts and museums.
From 34 museums, heritage parks and heritage galleries to 230 steam locomotives, 110 vintage coaches and wagons installed at prominent sites, the Railways also boasts of a massive repository of built heritage, which includes 25 bridges and 70 buildings.
At present, the Railways roughly shells out about ₹ 250 crores every year for the maintenance and management of heritage structures. “We are seeking private players’ participation to help preserve rail heritage assets — like SBI Foundation is doing at CSTM,” the official added.